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Blog Updates

March 6, 2015 4 comments

Hello my lovely readers!

I just wanted to take a moment to let those of you who subscribe via RSS feed or email that my blog now officially has its own url.  It is now opinionsofawolf.com not opinionsofawolf.wordpress.com.  Don’t worry, all links to the old .wordpress.com address are set to automatically forward to opinionsofawolf.com.  I’m excited to be taking this leap forward.

I have also decided to focus my free time more in on my writing.  Long-time readers know I am also a writer (see my Publications page here).  In light of this, I have decided to close up my Etsy shop.  I enjoy cross-stitching and designing patterns, but I would like to revert it back to being a hobby.  However, I have made all the patterns I designed available on my Cross-Stitch page, and I will add more as I design them. At my leisure.

I have also designed and synced an author’s twitter to this blog.  There is a link in the sidebar, or you may follow it here.  This is a public twitter that anyone may follow.  I primarily focus on tweeting about writing, books, and links to things that interest me, as well as retweeting anything I find humorous.

I also hope to start doing a monthly reading and writing reflection post.  We will all see how that goes!

Happy reading!

The Rise of Evidence-Based Health Sciences Librarianship (MLA13 Boston: Janet Doe Lecture by Joanne Gard Marshall, AHIP, FMLA)

The third plenary is given by a librarian who is respected in the field, but who is not the current MLA president.  Last year, we had a fascinating lecture by Mark Funk in which he showed us his extensive research documenting what librarians talk about in our published literature.  This year, Joanne Gard Marshall presented “Linking Research to Practice: The Rise of Evidence-Based Health Sciences Librarianship,” which while an interesting title mostly came across as a list of names of people she considered important.  She also spent 5 to 10 minutes summing up Mark Funk’s previous speech.  I think my tweet from during this plenary sums up my feelings pretty well:

Screenshot of a tweet reading #mlanet13 ehhhh summing up previous yr's doe lectures isn't very impressive as a doe lecture itself As with any lecture, though, I was still able to glean some useful or interesting information from it.  I’ve listed them out below.

  • David Sackett founded Evidence-Based Medicine (EBM), and his textbook Evidence-Based Medicine: How to Practice and Teach EBM, 2e is considered crucial in the field.
  • Sackett defines EBM as, “The conscientious, explicit, judicious use of current best evidence in making decisions about the care of individual patients.”
  • Evidence-Based Practice (EBP) is influenced by three factors:
    • Best research
    • Clinical expertise
    • Patient values and preferences
  • The old indexing (in PubMed etc…) didn’t used to include type or level of evidence in the terminology.
  • Evidence-Based Librarianship (EBL) is advocated for by McKibbon and Eldredge.  You may see a free PMC article summing that up here.
  • Steps of EBL:
    • formulate answerable question
    • search for evidence
    • critically appraise evidence
  • The research section of MLA has a free journal, Hypothesis, that is recommended.
  • MLA has a research imperative that you may read here.
  • “Randomized Control Trials, contrary to popular belief, are not the only way to control variables.”
  • Booth and Brice are named as big names in EBL.  Their book is Evidence-Based Practice for Information Professionals: A Handbook.
  • There is a journal on EBL called Evidence Based Library and Information Practice.  It is free, but you must register to comment or receive email notifications of new issues.
  • Recommends the book Diffusion of Innovations by Everett M. Rodgers to help with where we are going in EBL.  Take the model presented and adapt it and truly make it work for us.
  • Research must be balanced and paired with professional knowledge.

While the information I garnered is good, for a one hour lecture, it’s not very much. I left off the lists of names of previous Janet Doe lecturers, for instance.  I believe that if Marshall had focused much more in on the topic of EBL and its connection to EBM, which is an interesting topic, that it would have been a much better lecture.  Instead this received only a portion of the time so that we could be subjected to the names of previous Janet Doe lecturers and of course lists of people to thank. I am pleased to have found two new open access journals to read for my profession, but I do wish the lecture had gone further.

Up next is section programming.

 

The Power of Communication to Influence Health (MLA13 Boston: Plenary 2: McGovern Award Lecture by Dr. Richard Besser)

A tanned, white man standing in front of a blue background with a white moon-shape that says "One Health" on it behind him.

Dr. Richard Besser speaking at MLA13 One Health

After the first plenary and a short break came the second plenary, the McGovern Lecture.  I was surprised to see on twitter (the hashtag for the conference was #mlanet13 if anyone is interested) that many librarians didn’t see the value of having a plenary lecture by a non-librarian talking about non-library things.  I responded to this criticism in one of my official MLA13 blog posts The Value of the Non-Librarian Perspective: Thoughts on Plenary 2.  Please do take a moment to check that out.

And now back to the plenary.  Dr. Richard Besser is the medical correspondent for ABC, but more interestingly to me, he also was the acting director of the CDC during the H1N1 epidemic.  Epidemics ultimately were a theme of the conference, which makes sense since the overarching theme was One Health.  One health meaning the global health of all living creatures and how we are all interconnected.  Below are my notes from Dr. Besser’s lecture.

Introduction

  • Describes himself as an accidental journalist
  • If you change your life, then the terrorists win.
  • The reason Israelis are so well-prepared is because they face it every day.

Starting at the CDC and Advice on Being the New Person

  • Recommends the leadership book Good to Great
  • 1st ask your new boss what they think of their organization and ask them if they think it needs: big change, small change, or stabilization

How to Respond to a Pandemic

  • If you can spread out a pandemic so hospitals aren’t flooded, you’ll save lives.
  • You use different words to get different responses.
  • With a new emerging infection, you only get one shot to get ahead of it.
  • Be transparent with the public.
  • Base actions on fact.
  • Apply rapid learning –> guide will change based on new knowledge
  • If you lose the trust of the public, you’ve failed.
  • Three key aspects of communication:
    • Be first
    • Be right
    • Be credible
  • Homeland Security is in charge during a declared national emergency
  • Dr. Besser was featured on The Daily Show during the H1N1 epidemic
  • When he met with the cabinet, Obama said, “I want our responses based on science.”  An excellent support of evidence-based medicine.
  • Don’t use jargon with a non-science expert.  (For that matter, don’t use your specialty’s jargon with someone who is not also a specialist).  Just because someone is intelligent doesn’t mean they know the jargon.
  • Translate science into clear, spoken English.
  • Flu can spread for 12 days after infection.
  • How do you tell a good study from a bad one?  Which are reportable?

Q and A

  • Once someone is obese, it’s very very hard to lose that weight. Prevention is much easier.
  • So many diseases emerge from eating meat.
  • up-to-date is “an aggregator site” be sure to check primary sources
  • “A lot of people practice based on what they learned in residency.”
  • Check out his weekly twitter chat which he has complete control over at handle @abcdrbchat on Tuesdays at 1pm EST.

Check out Dr. Besser’s biography at ABC news, his twitter, and his book Tell Me the Truth, Doctor: Easy-to-Understand Answers to Your Most Confusing and Critical Health Questions.

Up next will be the third plenary, the Janet Doe lecture by Joanne Gard Marshall.

How to Successfully and Respectfully Pitch Your Book to Book Bloggers

January 5, 2012 12 comments

So!  You’re an author or publisher who has discovered the world of book blogging and says, “Hey! That’s a cool new way to market my book!”  Excellent.  We book bloggers love books and most of us view accepting ARCs as a mutually beneficial experience.  We love books, and trust me, if we love yours we will yak about it ad nauseum.  But!  There are basic guidelines to submitting your book to book bloggers that you really need to follow or you’ll start the relationship off on a bad foot.  Since I’m in the interesting position of being a book blogger and an indie author, I thought I’d put together a convenient set of guidelines for all those authors and publishers out there seeking to develop some book blog based marketing of their book(s).

  1. View marketing your book(s) via book blogs as developing professional relationships.  Book bloggers are people too.  Most of us do this as a hobby due to our love of reading.  We can tell when an author or publisher views us as a tool.  Take some time to get to know us by browsing our blogs, clicking through to our twitter or facebook or flickr, etc…  Friend us on GoodReads or LibraryThing.  Trust me.  I can tell from the pitch email if the author/publisher has taken the time to do this or not.
  2. Read the review polices before submitting and obey them.  Most established book bloggers have a set of review policies somewhere on their site, either under contact information or on a dedicated page.  Take the time to look at and read these.  We post them to make everything smoother for everybody.  For instance, on mine I say I do not accept YA.  You may read this and think, “Oh, but mine isn’t like other YA books, I’ll submit it anyway and tell her that.”  No. Do not do that.  Trust me when I say, I do not like YA.  I avoid it. Yours is not special. You are not a unique snowflake.  And besides, why are you wasting your time submitting to someone who already has an aversion to your genre?  The beauty of book blogs is they let you seek out and find your own niche audiences.  The review policies help with that.
  3. Do not pitch a book to us in the comments unless the blogger specifically states she prefers that.  Most established book bloggers have a blog email or a submission form that they use to sort out the ARC pitches, since we really do get a lot of them.  Comments are for interacting with our own readers, not for you to pitch your book.
  4. Find out our name we go by on our blog and use it in the pitch email.  The only thing more insulting than getting pitched a book that we obviously wouldn’t want if the person had read our review policies is if they start the email by saying “Dear blogger.”  Unless my name on the site is “blogger,” don’t call me that!  Our names are usually pretty obvious if you take five seconds to browse our blogs.  For instance, on mine on the right-hand sidebar there is both a Creative Commons license with my name on it and my twitter handle, which is my name.  If you can’t take the time to address us by name, why should we take the time to read your book?
  5. Do not contact bloggers until you have the final copy that you want reviewed ready to send out.  I encountered this problem multiple times in 2011 when reviewing ARCs.  Either the author would send me a copy then send me another copy months later saying, “Oh, this is the newly edited version” or when I posted my review the author would say, “But it’s different now!”  We agree to review the copy you send us.  That’s it.  It is not our obligation to seek out new edits.  Do not submit a book to us that you are not 100% positive is the absolutely positively best you can do.  I know it’s exciting to have finished the first draft of your book, but editing is your friend.  Nothing puts a reviewer in a worse frame of mind than a book badly in need of editing and no amount of you saying “But it’s different now” will entice us to change your review.  This is viral, indie marketing.  Use it to your advantage and don’t send out ARCs until you are positive it is the best you can offer.
  6. State in your pitch email exactly what format of ARCs you can offer.  This again is a time-saving technique that shows respect for the book blogger.  I personally primarily accept kindle-compatible ebooks, but I hate having to email back to a pitch and ask exactly what format is being offered, especially since I don’t like giving out my mailing address unless it’s for a reason.  It will take you a few seconds to type out a sentence saying what formats you have to offer.  Doing this will generate more positivity between you and the blogger.
  7. Provide the book jacket blurb of the book in the pitch email and do not include praise for your work unless someone super famous has said it.  Really. We just want to know what the book is about.  We do not care how much praise your work has gotten unless one of our own favorite authors has said so.  (For instance, I instantly accept anything Stephen King has praised).  I know that it’s awesome your first book got a lot of praise, and that’s great for you!  But we don’t care.  This again goes back to respecting that the book blogger knows what she likes.  Tell us the genre and give us the blurb and maybe throw in one or two really awesome praises you’ve received, but that’s it. Seriously.
  8. Compare your work (if it’s true and applicable) to other books the reviewer has read and loved.  This shows us that you paid attention to our blog and creates a positive association in our minds between you and a favorite book or author.
  9. Include links in your email signature to your blog, GoodReads/LibraryThing presence, twitter, etc…  Not all bloggers will look at this, but some of us will and sometimes it will lead to an acceptance of an ARC that otherwise might not have been accepted.  It’s smart marketing for you and convenient for the blogger.
  10. Once the blogger accepts an ARC, send the copy immediately and thank them for their time.  If you are mailing a print copy, email them telling them exactly when you put it in the mail and thank them.  If you are sending a coupon code or a file attachment, also be sure to thank them in the email.
  11. When the review goes live, do not disagree with it in public.  This all comes down to being mature.  Everyone gets bad reviews, even the famous authors.  It’s gonna happen if you market your book.  But responding aggressively to a negative review either in the comments or via email just makes you look like a childish jerk. Every time.  Be graceful and thank the blogger for her time.  That’s it.  If your work is good, one or two negative reviews are not going to kill it.  Now, if the blogger got a detail wrong, like a character’s name or who published the book, by all means politely correct her, but do so via email.  You clearly have it, and it shows respect for the blogger by not embarrassing her in public.  Most of us will be grateful to you for pointing out the mistake!
  12. If the blogger liked your book, maintain the rapport and relationship.  I honestly hate it when I love a first book in the series and the author doesn’t offer me ARCs of the rest of them.  You have found a reader who likes you and has an audience to spread that love of your work to.  Why wouldn’t you offer more ARCs to her in the future?  Some of my best professional book blogging relationships are with authors or agents whose first pitch I loved who then proceeded to continue to offer me more books.  I want to like the books I read and review just as much as you want me to.  After one positive experience, why wouldn’t you keep that positive rapport going?

Before I close I just want to give a few examples of the types of pitches and interactions that worked really well on me as a blogger in 2011:

  • “In addition to the obvious wolf connection, judging by what you discuss on your blog, I think you would enjoy it.”
  • ” I would be happy to add you to the list to receive a review copy once they are available.”
  • “It’s great to meet you. I just read your review, and thank you so much for all the kind words.”
  • “Let me know if you’d like to review the sequels. I’ll be happy to send them to you.”
  • “Thanks again for your honest and evenhanded review.” (in response to a negative review)
  • “I’m not ‘technically’ self-pubbed, but the publisher I work with consists of about 3 people on staff and have released a total of 5 books which mine is the only one released by them that isn’t written by people who work there.” (I accidentally said a book was self-pubbed when it was indie pubbed)
  • “Thanks again for reviewing. YOU ROCK MY SOCKS OFF! SERIOUSLY!”

You can see from these samples that all of these authors and publishers treated me like a person, thanked me for my work, and were personable themselves.

I really hope you find the tips helpful in your endeavors to market your books! Viva la reading!

Secret Santa 2011 #2

December 24, 2011 3 comments

My second secret santa present arrived!!  This one is part of the Book Blogger Holiday Swap.  The lovely lady who sent it to me said in her card that she’d just started following me on twitter when she was assigned to me, but girl! I couldn’t make out your twitter handle!  So please do let me know who you are!  🙂  She individually wrapped everything in gorgeous paper that I, yet again, do not have a picture of because I ripped the package open as soon as I got it, haha. It contained:

3 books and a card

A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly–I remember adding this to my wishlist around the time when I read The Birth House.  Basically, a historic 1906 setting with a young, independent woman and a murder mystery.  This is going to be an ideal winter read!

The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts by Maxine Hong Kingston–I find it utterly fascinating that both of my completely unconnected santas got me the same book from off my wishlist!  I take that as a huge sign from the universe to get at this asap and also maybe to host a giveaway of it!

The Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon–Wow! This is not only from 2011, but also is a complete audiobook and certainly looks brand new. Thank you so much!  The book covers inter-racial relationships and the world of mental hospitals and mental illness, so basically it’s a cross-section of two topics I read a lot about.  I’m very excited to have this to read while working around my apartment, knitting, or running at the gym.

A beautiful card!  Currently hanging on my fridge.

Thanks for making my swap a wonderful experience, and please do out yourself thoughtful twitter follower!

Friday Fun! (Thanksgiving, Cooking)

December 2, 2011 5 comments

Hello my lovely readers!  I hope those of you who celebrate had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  I had a great time with my dad.  We ordered in Thai food, which he’d never had before.  (I believe it was a hit).  I showed him one of my favorite indie bookstores.  He took me grocery shopping! (Which has been wonderful for me, I can tell you).  We spoiled my kitty rotten and went to a couple of my favorite pubs.  It was a wonderful weekend, and I hope to get to see him again very soon!

This week I got to see my friend Nina for the first time in around a month.  We went for a super long walk together in the random Indian summer weather we had at the beginning of the week and made this stir-fry out of baby bok choy, onions, pepper, garlic, parsnips, carrots, and fake steak tips (they were soy).  Oh, and sesame seeds!

Those of you book bloggers who are looking for projects and/or challenges for 2012, please be sure to check out my Diet for a New America page and my Mental Illness Advocacy 2012 page.  Even if you don’t choose to participate in them, any mentions on your blogs, facebook, and twitter are most welcome!  These types of things are always more fun the more people participate!

Also, if you missed it, I have an international giveaway currently running thanks to the author.  Be sure to check that out too!

This weekend I’ll be training in the gym, going to a tree trimming party, and editing zombies.  Also hopefully cooking something up in the slow-cooker to freeze into single servings for lunches.  Busy busy!

Happy weekends all!

Librarians, Enough With the Hero Complex

March 15, 2010 7 comments

Last week, I was chillaxing on my couch, enjoy some crackers and cheese whilst watching tv, and I checked in on my twitter feed.  My twitter feed is an interesting mix of folks–writers, publishers, libraries, gardening tips, celebrities who amuse me, veg folk, real life friends–but predominantly other librarians.  Well, suddenly everybody started tweeting at once.  The freak-out was over loss of funding for Florida libraries.  This turned into everybody bemoaning the fact that nobody understands the importance of libraries.  Then out of the blue, a male librarian said, “Simple truth- police & firefighters can always rehire when times get better. Close a library & what are the chances they’ll bring it back?”
I replied, “Well, y’know, I’d rather my house not burn down than be able to use old crappy computers for free.”
To which a different male librarian replied: “If a fire starts, no matter how much you spend on fire fighters, your house it totalled in a matter of minutes.”

I have refrained from naming them, because this isn’t about these individuals.  It’s about a general attitude going on among librarians that is just wrong and self-centered, and I wanted to illustrate it with actual quotes.  The attitude that libraries are the most important public service, and they–and by extension, librarians–are misunderstood and under-appreciated.  I mean, a book just came out whose subtitle is How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All (LibraryThing record of the book here).  You know what? No.  We’re not more important than policemen and firemen.  We’re not even as important.  As librarians, we’re not out there risking our lives to save strangers’ lives.  Contrary to what male librarian #2 said, not all houses burn down anyway, and even if they did, there’s still people to save.  There’s also the fact that the blaze needs to be prevented from spreading, but I digress.

We are librarians.  We are not out there providing for the safety of lives.  The fact that we exist doesn’t make it so people can sleep at night safe in the knowledge that if a fire starts in their house, someone will show up and run into the blaze to save them.  Public librarians, at best, provide educational support outside of the public school system.  At worst, public librarians are providing entertainment to the low income masses, and do you think the low income would rather be entertained or be alive and able to walk down the street safely?

I don’t enjoy the fact that libraries and fire departments are pitted against each other for money.  However, it is an economic crisis.  The money just is not there.  Of course I would rather see libraries’ hours cut instead of the doors closed, but if the choice is keeping the library open a few hours a week or maintaining a safe number of firemen for the community, I would choose the firemen.  You know why?  Because I don’t have some hero complex.

What we’re really seeing is people freaking out because they think either their job won’t exist in the short-term or that libraries are going to cease existing entirely, making their career choice a really poor one.  I get it.  I do.  It sucks to be worrying about getting laid off.  It sucks to wonder if your career will still exist in 10 years, but you know what?  Almost everyone is having to worry about their job right now, if they’re even lucky enough to still have one.  There are also plenty of people worrying that their careers will cease to be an option due to technological advances, changing world economic climate, etc…  I saw it happen to people I care about when the Silicon Valley happened.  Yes, it sucked, but maybe it’s time to admit that you chose your job because you like it.  Because you enjoy organizing things, helping people, books, literacy, and more, and yes that’s more noble than becoming a back-stabbing CEO.  However, it’s not this superhero career.  It’s just a nice one.  One that I certainly hope continues to be needed, but I’m not about to go out there and over-inflate it because I’m worried about jobs.  I’m realistic, and the fact that other librarians are being so unrealistic in the face of this economic crisis is just making us look like a bunch of snobby, privileged, unrealistic bookworms.

(Yes, I realize this post is mainly about public libraries, which is something I strive to avoid, but I haven’t been hearing much of the same thing regarding academic or special libraries.)